Roof with earthquake damage
Be prepared for unpredictable weather
posted in: Family

Weather emergency safety

When it comes to weather, you have to expect the it a flood, hail, tornado, high winds, or a hurricane. Becoming familiar with the common weather emergencies for your region will help you and your family prepare for whatever Mother Nature may bring your way.


Are you at risk?

Do you know if you live in a flood-prone area? If you are new to the area, talking to your neighbors will help you learn more about the area's history. You can also ask zoning officials if your property is above or below the flood stage water level.

Flooding is common after spring rains, heavy thunderstorms, or winter snow thaws.

Characteristics of a flood

A steady, heavy rain can cause roads, rivers, and surrounding areas to flood quicker than you may think. Rain over the course of several days can cause sewers and retention basins to struggle to keep up with the water and suddenly there is standing water in your street.

What you should do to prepare for a possible flood

Stockpile emergency materials to build protective barriers:

  • Plywood
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Lumber and nails
  • Hammer and saw
  • Pry bar
  • Shovels
  • Sandbags

How you should react during a warning

  • Turn off electricity at the main power switch and close the main gas valve
  • Move valuable items to upper floors
  • Bring outdoor furniture and other outdoor items inside or tie them down
  • Prepare to evacuate
  • Avoid driving or walking through flooded areas


Are you at risk?

Hailstorms usually occur in thunderstorm systems followed by heavy winds and rain. They are most prevalent from April to October.

Characteristics of hail

Hail can fall from altitudes of up to 60,000 feet at speeds up to 120 miles per hour, with pellets ranging in diameter from a half a centimeter to more than five inches. Damage normally takes place when hail size reaches 1.75 inches (golf ball-sized) or larger. Hail can damage most anything it hits including vehicles, homes, or field crops. According to the National Weather Service, hail causes $1 billion in damage to crops and property each year.

What you should do at the threat of hail

When hail hits, stay indoors and, if possible, keep your car parked in a garage. Always wait until the storm has passed to assess hail size and damage to your property. Follow all weather warnings and seek cover for severe storms. Large hail indicates strong updrafts and downdrafts within a thunderstorm, conditions that could also indicate the possibility of tornado formation.


Are you at risk?

Tornadoes are most prevalent east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer. Peak tornado season lasts from March to May in Southern states and from late spring to summer in the North, but tornados have occurred in every state and may strike at any time of the year.

Characteristics of a tornado

A tornado normally takes form as columns of violently rotating air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground, often but not always forming from funnel clouds. Tornadoes are the most destructive local weather occurrence, producing rotating winds of up to 250 miles per hour and injuring 1,500 people each year.

What you should do at the threat of a tornado

Before a tornado

  • Make sure your house meets current building codes
  • Strengthen entry doors by fastening them with at least three hinges and a dead bolt security lock with a bolt at least one inch long
  • Install impact-resistant patio doors and strong garage doors and windows
  • Ensure the roof is in good condition and doesn’t have leaks or loose shingles

During a tornado

  • Go to your basement, storm cellar, or the lowest level of whatever building you are in
  • Stay away from windows; go to center of the room
  • Use your hands to cover head and neck
  • Lie in a ditch or low-lying area if you’re stranded outside
  • Get out of a vehicle immediately, and never try to outrun a storm

High Winds

Are you at risk?

High winds often accompany hurricanes and strike inland of coastal areas, but may occur in any area of the country under less severe conditions.

Characteristics of high winds

Sustained winds of more than 40 miles per hour or gusts of more than 58 miles per hour are classified as high winds and can damage your home and property. In coastal areas, high winds can be a precursor to or may accompany hurricanes. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, follow all safety guidelines outlined in the hurricane section.

What you should do at the threat of high winds

  • Secure outdoor items that could be blown away
  • Avoid boating or other activities near open water
  • Avoid driving lightweight or tall vehicles in routes perpendicular to wind
  • Seek shelter indoors away from windows 
  • Check television or radio for weather updates and follow all severe weather warnings


Are you at risk?

Hurricanes are common in regions near the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. In recent years many of these areas have experienced above-average threats from hurricanes. We all remember Katrina and how it devastated New Orleans and the surrounding areas.

Characteristics of a hurricane

Dark skies, heavy winds, and torrential rains all surround a hurricane. A hurricane pattern can last up to two weeks.

What you should do at the threat of a hurricane

Prepare your home and property for high winds and heavy rains:

  • Secure building by boarding up windows
  • Bring lawn furniture inside
  • Remove damaged tree limbs
  • Close and secure all doors
  • Turn off propane gas and small appliances
  • Leave immediately when an evacuation is ordered  

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